ARU to slice 20 players off top-up list
Sydney Morning Herald
Friday April 1, 2011
THE Australian Rugby Union will dramatically cut back the number of contract top-ups it offers, and have already begun shortening the length of contracts on offer.In a bid to reward those who perform at the expense of those who don't, the ARU plan to restrict the number of Australian provincial players they provide top-up money to from about 50 to between 30-35. There has been a concern at ARU level for some time they had been providing money to players who are not in contention for a Test spot.And the days of long ARU contracts are over - with the length being cut back to one or two seasons. Aware of fears that low and middle-tier players may be hit with a pay cut, ARU officials yesterday argued that overall player salaries will remain buoyant and that among their leading in-form players, the amount of money they earn could rise.There will also be major changes at provincial level, with each Australian team no longer restricted to a cap of $110,000 per player but being able to pay considerably more for individuals from out of their annual budget, which will be about $4.4 million in 2012. The minimum wage at provincial level will also remain at $60,000. ARU high performance unit manager and Wallabies selector David Nucifora yesterday said the contracting changes were aimed at ensuring that the ARU could make proper monetary judgments."The players knows that the number of [ARU] top-ups are coming down," Nucifora said yesterday. "And it's pretty much common knowledge that the terms we are offering - such as one- and two-year contracts - are based around performance."While the bulk of the Wallabies squad have signed beyond this year's World Cup, the ARU is still negotiating with players including Kurtley Beale, James O'Connor, Digby Ioane, Rocky Elsom and James Horwill.